Hopi and Navajo Elders Warned Lehman Bros.

Blowback for Black Mesa

Linked with Black Mesa Indigenous Support, with Big Mountain Native writes an appeal, and with FIRST NATIONS, FIRST RESISTANCE.

Published on Black Mesa Indigenous Support, by BRENDA NORRELL, September 19, 2008.

A delegation of Navajo, Hopi and Lakota warned Lehman Brothers stockholders of the dire consequences of their actions in 2001. In a rare move, censored by most media, the Navajo, Hopi and Lakota delegation warned Lehman Brothers, after it acquired the financial interests of Peabody Coal, of the spiritual consequences of mining coal on sacred Black Mesa and the aftermath of Peabody Coal’s machinations that led to the so-called Navajo Hopi Land Dispute. Lehman Brothers is now in the midst of financial collapse, with its bankruptcy producing a rippling effect throughout the world’s economy.  

At the time of the Lehman Brothers stockholders meeting in 2001, Arlene Hamilton bought two shares of stocks in Lehman Brothers to pave the way for the delegation to address the stockholders. Hamilton said her life was threatened because of this action. Shortly afterwards, Hamilton was killed in a car crash. Longtime Navajo relocation resister Roberta Blackgoat died in San Francisco at Hamilton’s memorial.

A traditional Hopi was among those addressing the Lehman Brothers stockholders. His admonitions followed those of the late Hopi Sinom elders Thomas Banyacya and Dan Evehema, among the Hopi elders who warned of dire consequences, including natural disasters and worldwide consequences, if Peabody mined coal on Black Mesa and Navajos were relocated from this sacred region. The Hopi Sinom never authorized the establishment of the Hopi Tribal Council, which they referred to as a puppet government of the United States …

… Back in Flagstaff in 2001, Hamilton said Lehman Brothers and Peabody Coal now have the opportunity to make a difference in the future of mankind.

“We want the dehumanizing and militarizing to stop. There is a lot of suffering going on. We want to make sure the ceremonies are not surrounded by guns and the people have clean drinking water.

“There is no life without water.” Hamilton said Navajo elders resisting relocation often become dehydrated during the hot summer months because of the scarcity of clean water, while Peabody Coal pumps 10,000 gallons of water a minute to slurry coal.She has taken human rights concerns to Peabody management for years, but she said they have done little to improve the quality of living as promised. “It’s really just diversion and distraction while the people are suffering out there. Everything is based on making way for mining.”

The delegation presented a list of demands to Lehman Brothers, demanding that Peabody leave the water and coal alone because they are the lungs and liver of Mother Earth. They called for a halt to mining and the initiation of a solar project, availability of clean drinking water, and a halt to military over flights and the intimidation of elders and youths by armed rangers.

Hamilton said the Weaving for Freedom project is a collective of Dine’ weavers in resistance struggling for religious freedom to practice their ancient craft while protecting their sacred land. Hamilton said, “This work is very risky now. We protect each other by traveling in large groups.” Leonard Benally said, “The whole thing is about materialism, money. In our culture, money doesn’t matter. It is about how you live in harmony with nature, in harmony with your prayers. “That’s why we are fighting for our lands, even though the media and politicians are telling us we don’t have a right to exist.”

Meanwhile, Bill Ahearn, spokesman for Lehman Brothers, said the protesters were welcome to speak at the meeting but said the firm would be unable to help them. He said the issues must be resolved by the tribes and BIA.

“We’re very sympathetic and we feel badly for them, but there’s nothing we can do for them because it’s not a problem with us.” (full long text).

(Brenda Norrell is human rights editor for U.N. OBSERVER & International Report. She also runs the Censored website and is a contributor to Red State Rebels. She can be reached by e-mail).

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